India signs $100-bilion free trade pact with 4-nation bloc EFTA

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India on Sunday signed a $100-billion free trade pact with the four-nation bloc European Free Trade Association (EFTA) to help promote investments and exports of key domestic services sectors such as IT, audio-visual, and movement of skilled professionals. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are part of EFTA. 

India Today reported that India has sought an investment commitment of $50 billion during the first 10 years after the implementation of the agreement, and another $50 billion over the next five years from the bloc members, and to facilitate the generation of 1 million direct employments in India through such investments. 

The agreement has 14 chapters, including trade in goods, rules of origin, trade in services, investment promotion and cooperation, government procurement, intellectual property rights (IPRs), technical barriers to trade, and trade facilitation. India and the EFTA have been negotiating the free trade pact since January 2008 to boost economic relations.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal, quoting PM Narendra Modi, said, “Despite structural diversities in many aspects, our economies possess complementarities that promise to be a win-win situation for all nations. With the opening up of enormous trading and investment opportunities, we have reached a new level of trust and ambition. The trade agreement symbolizes our shared agreement to open fair, equitable trade, as well as generate growth and employment for the youth.”

“Through wide-ranging reforms, we have enhanced the ease of doing business that has helped our nation touch new heights in business, manufacturing, and exports. The global leadership of EFTA countries in research and development across diverse spheres such as digital trade, banking and financial services, transport and logistics, industrial machinery, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food processing, and clean energy will open up new doors of collaboration.” 

Goyal said India will extend all possible support to EFTA countries and facilitate industry and businesses not only to achieve the committed targets but also to go beyond them. “May this agreement mark the beginning of a new chapter in the journey of our nations towards a more prosperous future for us all.”

The minister called the signing ceremony “a momentous occasion”. “The signing marks the culmination of nearly 15 years of hard work, tremendous energy, and effort. While we are celebrating 75 years of our partnership, friendship, and diplomatic ties with Switzerland to celebrate such a momentous year with a momentous TEPA makes it double joyful for all of us. Incidentally, today is also the International Day of Awesomeness. What could be more awesome than this?”

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